Gen. Milley: US-Taliban Cooperation Against ISIS-K ‘Possible’

Gen. Milley: US-Taliban Cooperation Against ISIS-K 'Possible' Mark Milley participates in a news briefing at the Pentagon. U.S. Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley participates in a news briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, on July 21. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Thursday, 02 September 2021 08:28 AM

It's "possible" that the United States will cooperate with the Taliban against ISIS-K, Gen. Mark Milley, the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged during his press conference with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Milley's comment to reporters Wednesday came after he called the Taliban a "ruthless group," but said that the cooperation with Afghanistan's new rulers during the evacuation of Americans and allies during the last weeks of the 20-year war was necessary, The New York Times reported Thursday.

"In war, you do what you must," Milley commented. "It is not necessarily what you want to do."

However, both Milley and Austin were wary during their statements about continuing to work with the leaders of the Taliban, and Austin, after Milley's comment, said he wouldn't want to "make any predictions."

"We will do everything that we can to make sure that we remain focused, understand that network, and hold them accountable for what they've done," Austin said of Islamic State Khorasan, also known as ISIS-K.

The terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for a deadly terrorist bombing attack at the Kabul airport in the final days of the evacuation that killed 13 U.S. service members and 170 civilians.

Austin said the United States-Taliban cooperation had focused on a narrow range of priorities during the final days of the war, but "it's hard to predict where this will go in respect to the Taliban."

The Taliban remains on terrorist watch lists worldwide, but the United States worked with the group during the evacuation of over 100,000 people from the Kabul airport, and officials said the threat posed by ISIS-K could require more cooperation with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, other nations are working toward cooperation with the Taliban or regional partners to bring civilians out of Afghanistan now that the Aug. 31 deadline has passed.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is meeting Qatari leaders in Doha Thursday to discuss the situation and pulling people out of Afghanistan safely, said the British "will not be recognizing the Taliban in the foreseeable future" as the government of Afghanistan.

However, he said, "we do see the need for direct engagement," reports The New York Times, quoting the BBC.

Raab and the Qatari officials also discussed whether they think it will be possible to have a functioning airport in Kabul for the short term, according to a statement from the British foreign ministry. They also discussed the possibility of safely bringing Afghans and foreign nationals across the country's borders.

The foreign ministry also said that Simon Gass, Britain’s special envoy for the Afghan transition, has been in talks in recent days with some of the Taliban's senior political representatives.